Heath reminded us last Sunday that good listening has four components:
- Asking questions
But I believe the most difficult step in the whole process is starting at the beginning—receiving. The actual receiving is not the difficult part, but starting there is. Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish (see Proverbs 18:13).
In a race, false starts are not allowed. Starting 100 meters ahead or even just a single step results in disqualification. It’s a foolish thing to do.
Spouting off before listening to the facts is not only foolish, it is shameful. It says to the person looking me in the eye, pouring out their heart, whether spouse, supervisor, child, parent, teammate, or neighbor, “You are not worth my time and effort.”
I’ve done a lot of foolish things in life, but some of the most foolish are those times that I talked when I should have listened. Those times never produced gardens; always fields of weeds: hurt, strained relationships, bitterness, insecurity. Now, add to that, that Paul says when we are actions produce these results we are acting just like people of the world (1 Corinthians 3:3). Ouch.
I have a friend who often asks, “Are you making God famous?” One of the best ways to do that is by intentional acts of kindness. And hardly anything is kinder than expressing the worth and value of someone else by listening to them. So James encourages us to start at the beginning: be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires (see James 1:19-20).
Begin each day, including today starting right now if you have not already done so, by surrendering your ears and tongue to God so that you might be a peacemaker in a world of strife. That’s what love does. And it starts at the beginning—it listens.
On your mark. Get set. GO!